Toshiba Corp. has developed a detachable display that the company says will combine the convenience of a Tablet PC with the computing power of a notebook PC, and that could be available in about three years, it said at Cebit on Thursday.
The company already developed a prototype stylus-operated display that can be detached from a notebook PC, and is showing it at the Hanover, Germany, trade show.
The prototype is a 12.1-inch TFT (thin-film transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display) screen with XGA (1024 pixels by 768 pixels) resolution that communicates with a Toshiba notebook PC "basestation" via the 802.11b wireless protocol, said Hajime Yamaguchi, a research scientist at Toshiba's Advanced Electron Devices Laboratory.
The prototype display is 18 millimeters thick, weighs 530 grams and detaches from a Toshiba Dynabook SS SX notebook PC, he said.
The company needs to slim the screen and reduce the weight before selling the product, Yamaguchi said.
One issue is battery life; the prototype can only operate about an hour away from its notebook PC base. While the screen uses lithium ion batteries, Yamaguchi declined comment on how much power the prototype uses.
"If users will accept two to three hours of battery life, it's not so difficult and we can launch it as a product in the next few years," he said.
The prototype only uses a stylus, but the company can easily add a wireless keyboard, Yamaguchi said.
The detachable screen technology could enable users to enjoy the best of both worlds by combining the functions of a Tablet PC with a laptop's processing power, he said.
The company has no fixed plans for commercialization yet, but there are some ideas about what the product will look like in shops, Yamaguchi said.
For example, a commercial version of a type with a 12.1-inch screen could be 10 mm thick, weigh 300 grams or 400 grams and have a battery life of three to four hours, although developing a longer battery life independent of the mother PC could prove problematic. Toshiba is also considering installing a range of wireless connectivity, including 802.11g, 802.11n and UWB (ultrawideband) specifications, Yamaguchi said.
It is technically feasible to develop models with these specifications within about two years, Yamaguchi said.
Toshiba wants to develop a variety of screen sizes ranging, for example, from 10 inches to 15 inches and may develop a line of notebook detachable PCs. The company is also considering providing the screens to other notebook PC vendors, he said.